The UN committee on the rights of the child has finished a 10-year review of how Canada treats its children and how well governments are implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Canada’s tough-on-crime agenda is “excessively punitive” for youth and is a step backwards for Canada’s child rights record. The committee also repeatedly expressed its concern that aboriginal and black children are dramatically overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Aboriginal youth are more likely to be jailed than graduate from high school, the report said. Governments should determine why so many aboriginal and black children and youth are involved in the criminal justice system and figure out how to reduce the disparity, the report recommended. The committee also chastised Canada for failing to provide equal social services to aboriginal children – especially in the realm of child welfare, an issue now before Canadian courts. It accused authorities of “serious and widespread discrimination” in the services they offer aboriginal children, visible minorities, immigrants and children with disabilities. The Canadian Government has rejected the UN finding and issued a statement saying “Our legislation reflects the need to protect society from serious and violent young offenders,” “It targets the small number of violent, repeat young offenders and its measures are balanced, effective, and responsible.” Noting that one of the members on this UN committee is from Syria, the statement continues “Syria, a country whose rulers are stealing the innocence of an entire generation of its children, is criticizing Canada, Imagine that. “This is no doubt to distract from the atrocities that Syrian children are currently facing every day.”
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